VistaJet Moves into U.S. with Jet Aviation and Wheels Up

 - September 6, 2013, 7:00 AM
Jet Aviation will operate a fleet of 12 Bombardier Global Express aircraft on behalf of VistaJet in the U.S. market. (Photo: VistaJet)

VistaJet is moving into the U.S. private lift market with an unexpected new alliance with Jet Aviation Flight Services, which is to operate a fleet of 12 Bombardier Globals on its behalf. Under the terms of an agreement announced this morning in New York City, the Europe-based private flight provider is also teaming with start-up membership-based program Wheels Up to market VistaJet’s Flight Solutions Program (FSP) to customers in the U.S.

The first three Globals will enter service in March next year from their new base at Jet Aviation’s New York-area Teterboro Airport facility. As a U.S.-licensed direct air carrier, Jet Aviation’s Flight Services division will maintain full operational control of all flights arranged by VistaJet on behalf of its customers in the U.S.

The Globals are part of a massive order for up to 142 Bombardier aircraft placed by VistaJet in November last year (firm orders for 56 and options on 86 more). “The U.S. services operated by Jet Aviation will mirror the worldwide VistaJet model,” explained VistaJet founder and chairman Thomas Flohr. “The aircraft will fly from one destination to the next, keeping empty-leg flights to a minimum.”

Wheels Up, which is preparing to launch service with a fleet of Beechcraft King Air 350i twin turboprops later this year, will be VistaJet’s exclusive general sales agent in the U.S. for FSP clients. Its own members will be able to book flights on VistaJet’s U.S.-based fleet. Under FSP contracts, VistaJet clients enjoy guaranteed aircraft availability at a fixed price per occupied hour (with no charges for ferry flights).

“Leading key indicators such as the overall U.S. economy, business jet usage and demand for a truly global solution were integral in my decision [to enter the U.S. market],” said Flohr. Jet Aviation’s crews will be trained to deliver service consistent with VistaJet’s operations in other parts of the world.

VistaJet unveiled its new alliances with Jet Aviation and Wheels Up less than 24 hours after Kenn Ricci’s Directional Aviation Capital announced that it is to buy fractional ownership provider Flexjet from Bombardier. U.S.-based Flexjet and VistaJet, which already operates flights across Europe, Russia, the Middle East, Asia and Africa, have had a reciprocal arrangement under which their clients have access to one another’s fleets.